The puck is ready to drop on the 2019-20 prep ice hockey season and it looks as promising as those in the past for the two programs featuring Aurora-area players, Regis Jesuit and the Cherry Creek co-op.
Regis Jesuit skated off the ice at Pepsi Center to conclude last season with its sixth all-time state championship — and second consecutive — to cap a 22-1 campaign.
Coach Dan Woodley has guided the program since its inception and led the Raiders to the state final for four consecutive seasons.
The heart of this reloaded Regis Jesuit team will be on defense, where senior Nolan Sargent looms large as he enters his fourth varsity season as a fixture on the Raiders’ backline.
Also a deadly member of Regis Jesuit’s power play, Sargent tied for the team lead in goals scored in the regular season (13) and dished out 10 assists, one of only four players on the team to record double digits in both categories last season. He added four goals and two assists during Regis Jesuit’s championship run.
Tommy Miner joins him on the back line for experience and stability along with Sergio Padilla, while a young talent will join the defensive mix in freshman Kai Oganeku.
Sophomore Gage Bussey enters the season as the top choice in the nets, but sophomore Logan Zlot should get some time as well.
Regis Jesuit will have a lot to replace on offense, especially the presence of gritty Kale Lone, who won three state championships and played in four finals on varsity before going out on top last season as the state’s player of the year.
Woodley rolls into the season with a top line of Leighton Walsh, Robbie Dembeck and Brody Sannes, which is a big change considering only Walsh saw extensive varsity time last season and tallied four goals and four assists.
The Cherry Creek co-op team exited the playoffs last season with a loss to Regis Jesuit in the quarterfinals and the team featuring a mix of players from schools across the district is built for that much or more in the new season.
Coach Jeff Mielnicki believes the Bruins should stay in the mix among the state’s top teams because of its overall team speed and the potency of its top line of senior Hunter Fieweger (Cherokee Trail) — one of only two double-digit goal scorers for the team last season who finished with 12 goals and 10 assists —plus senior Gavin Berkey and junior Riley Hunt-Bahn (both of Cherry Creek).
Junior Aidan Tucker (Cherokee Trail), two-way senior Charlie Krause (Grandview) and David Kirilchuk (Eaglecrest) should also add offensive pop in Mielnicki’s estimation.
Sophomore Ben Powell (Grandview) will be a key on the back line as well on the power play and teams with senior Luke Flay (Cherokee Trail) and Eugene Riewe (Cherry Creek) on a veteran defensive unit in front of senior netminder Lucas Banks (Cherry Creek), who logged 17 games in nets last season.
As part of the powerhouse Foothills Conference — along with Castle View, Chaparral, Mountain Vista and Valor Christian — Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek will again face off twice during the 2019-20 season, both times on the other side of the winter break.
The Raiders will be the home team at Family Sports Center for the Jan. 3 matchup (5:40 p.m.), while the Bruins have host honors on the same ice for the 3:10 p.m. Jan. 11 rematch.
The Frozen Four returns to Pepsi Center for semifinals on March 2, 2020, and championship March 5.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2019-20 AURORA ICE HOCKEY SEASON
Aurora players to watch: Lucas Banks, sr. (G), Cherry Creek; Gavin Berkey, sr. (F), Cherry Creek; Gage Bussey, soph. (G), Regis Jesuit; Robbie Dembeck, soph. (F), Regis Jesuit; Hunter Fieweger, sr. (F), Cherry Creek (Cherokee Trail); Luke Flay, sr. (D), Cherry Creek (Cherokee Trail); Riley Hunt-Bahn, jr. (F), Cherry Creek; David Kirilchuk, sr. (F), Cherry Creek (Eaglecrest); Charlie Krause, sr. (D/F), Cherry Creek (Grandview); Tommy Miner, sr. (D), Regis Jesuit; Kyle Oganeku, fr. (D), Regis Jesuit; Sergio Padilla, sr. (D), Regis Jesuit; Ben Powell, soph. (D), Cherry Creek (Grandview); Eugene Riewe, jr. (D), Cherry Creek; Brody Sannes (F), Regis Jesuit; Nolan Sargent, sr. (D), Regis Jesuit; Aidan Tucker, jr. (F), Cherry Creek (Cherokee Trail); Leighton Walsh, sr. (F), Regis Jesuit; Logan Zlot, sr. (G), Regis Jesuit
— Key dates and information on the 2019-20 ice hockey season, here